I always have the overwhelming feeling that I forgot to pack something very important. Anyone with me on that?
Truth be told, apart from travel documents, phone and money everything else can be replaced, so I really have no reason to stress unless… I am packing for a multiday hike.
This is way different because If I forget something, for example, a rain jacket, not only it can make my life miserable, but it might also mean I will have to end the trip early.
Luckily having hiked many multiday trails in the Italian Dolomites I have developed my own foolproof packing list for hut-to-hut hikes. Whether your trip is 3 or 30 days long this list will ensure that you do not overpack or forget anything important.
Make sure to download the list at the end!
Clothes are usually the number 1 thing we all tend to overpack. Hiking clothes are lightweight, but the weight adds up quickly. Remember if you have to carry everything on your back, every gram counts!
You only need two sets of clothes: one to wear during the day on the hike and the second one to wear around the hut. Nothing more!
The clothes should be multifunctional, made of lightweight and quick-drying materials. I am also a big believer in investing in good quality gear which lasts for years.
Every piece of clothing I recommend below is one that I use myself. I hike a few hundred kilometres of trails every summer and autumn and put my gear under tremendous strain yet in never fails me.
Black Diamond Waterproof Jacket – this is a no brainer. Don’t count on sunshine all the way through. Afternoon storms are very common in the Dolomites
Hiking T-Shirts x 2 – You can alternate them & wash them daily at the hut. Make sure they are made from quick-drying synthetic material or if you don’t mind wearing wool you can get Merino wool t-shirts.
2-3 x socks – Make sure you pack Merino wool socks. Good socks will prevent blisters and any funky smells.
Pants with zip-off legs (to wear during the day) – I have a pair of Fjallraven Abisko Lite Zip-Off trousers and Revolution Race trousers. The latter has the best quality to price ratio
Leggings or shorts – My favourite brand of leggings is Lululemon, but you can just pack the most comfortable pair of leggings you have at home to wear in the evenings around the hut.
Salewa Dry Hoodie – for colder days. Make sure it is synthetic like the one above
Patagonia Trucker Hat – an absolute must-have. I have a Patagonia sun hat. Love the colours and the fit.
Julbo Trekking Sunglasses with UV filter (strength at least 3) – Polarised sunglasses are nice, but they don’t work for me, because I don’t like taking my sunglasses off when using my camera.
Buff Scarf – probably the most versatile piece of clothing. It can be used as a hat, headband, scarf and a dozen other ways.
Icebreaker Trekking Gloves – particularly if you hike in September as the mornings and evenings do get cold.
Lowa Mauria GTX boots – These boots carried me across the Dolomites for hundreds of kilometres until I wore the sole off. My own fault, because you can actually resolve them! They are very well made, comfy and look nice! Just buy a better insole (as with any hiking boots).
Slide Sandals – to wear around the hut and for use in the showers. Opt for slide in sandals instead of flip flops, because you want to be able to wear socks! It’s the latest fashion trend after all 😉 instead of flip flops, because you want to be able to wear socks! It’s the latest fashion trend after all 😉
Store all your clothes in a stuff sack to save space and have an easy access to them, when stored in your backpack.
Remember to carry small travel sized bottles. No need to take a whole tube of toothpaste or face cream. The idea is to fit all your toiletries into a small bag.
- Sea To Summit Toiletry Bag – this tiny cosmetic pouch will fit everything that you need for your journey! Ladies leave your make up at home!
- Sunscreen – 50 ml (at least 30 SPF, ideally SPF 50). The sun in the mountains is fierce. Don’t risk sun burn and apply that sunscreen!
- Face cream – because you aren’t getting any younger!
- Sea to Summit Trek & Travel Pocket Soaps– I know some of us like to have 20 different bottles for each body part but in this case these environmentally friendly and lightweight dry pocket soaps will do the trick!
- Sea to Summit Biodegradable Wilderness Wash– take that stink out of your clothes and wash them at the hut in the afternoon
- Toothbrush – I hope I don’t need to explain why you need a toothbrush
- Toothpaste 10 ml – same as above
- Hairbrush – optional. I sometimes pack it and other times I don’t. I don’t brush my hair very often, so a few days without it is totally fine for me. I just comb my hair with my fingers.
- Hair bobbles – If you like to keep your hair out of the way
- Deodorant (50ml) – to keep the stink at bay
- Small shaver (optional) – If I go for a week or longer, I do pack it with me, but it’s totally optional
- Cream for cuts and blisters – Have you heard of the PAWPAW cream? It was recommended to me on my travels in Australia. It has many purposes, including lip moisturiser! You will never buy any other product again after trying this one, I promise! It’s a lifesaver.
- Ortovox mini first aid kit – if there is more than one person in your party then just carry one between you.
- Painkillers – if your trekking partner gives you headaches because of all their whining
- Immodium – if the food at the hut causes some digestion problems
- Any other medicine you might be taking on a regular basis
- Paper tissues and/or wet wipes – a staple for any backpacker. Just don’t throw them away into the bush. I hate the sight of toilet paper flying around in the most pristine areas!
- Rehydration tablets – replace those electrolytes! Adding them to your water will quench your thirst a lot better
- Nuts – avoid salted nuts, I always go with walnuts, almonds or cashews
- Date and nut bars or protein bars – go as natural as possible, avoid muesli bars full of added sugar
- Protein powder (30 gram serving for each day of the trek) – just mix it with water and have it as a snack at the hut, so you can look like Arnold Schwarzenegger at the end of the trek
Luckily there isn’t much hiking gear you need to have with you on hut to hut hikes in the Dolomites.
There is no necessity of carrying a tent, sleeping bag or cooking sets because not only do the huts offer a comfortable nights sleep in a real bed, but also have restaurants on-site! That’s the reason lightweight hiking is possible in the Dolomites!
There are however still a few things you need to pack all enlisted below.
Silk sleeping bag liner – it is required at the huts to prevent direct contact with the sheets. They are not washed every day!
Microfibre trekking towel – you do need to wash yourself every now and again after all
Maps – To know where you are going!
Hydrapak Water bladder – to drink hands-free whilst you admire all the landscapes around you. One of the greatest inventions in the hiking
Black Diamond Trekking Poles – to help you drug your butt up and down those mountain passes. I have already g
Black Diamond Cosmo Head Torch – Oftentimes the huts only run the lights until 10 or 11 PM, after that you will have to use the head torch. It’s also polite to use it at night when everyone else is sleeping in the room and you need to use the bathroom.
- ID or Passport – it’s smart to carry one with you in case something happens
- Credit/debit card – so you can go crazy at the hut bar!
- Cash – many huts still don’t accept cards, so cash is necessary. Spread it around in different pockets.
- Alpine club membership – if you have one, bring it! It can save you quite a bit of money. I talk about it in my post about the ins and outs of staying in mountain huts in the Italian Dolomites.
Via Ferrata Equipment (optional)
Some of multiday hikes in the Italian Dolomites have via ferrata’s incorporated in them. Examples are Alta Via 2, Alta Via 4, Rosengarten traverse or the Dolomiti Brenta circuit. To undertake them you will need to pack dedicated via ferrata equipment.
An absolute necessity. There is a lot of loose scree paths in the Dolomites, not to mention the scrambling parts!
This is the second Black Diamond harness I owned after my first one reached its expiration date and this one is even comfier than the last one!
Protect your hands from cuts caused by single wires sticking out of the cables and opt for full-fingered cover gloves.
Arguably the best set on the market made by an Italian company. When it comes down to Via Ferrata gear the Italians know their stuff.
How much electronic equipment you decide to carry is entirely up to you. As a photographer and a blogger, I carry quite a bit of toy with me, but if you are trekking only, then I recommend that you take only the bare essentials. Here is what I take:
- Camera + lenses + SD Cards + spare battery – my current set up is the Fujifilm XT2 camera body + 10-24mm f/4, 16-55mm f/2.8 and 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 lenses. My entire Dolomites Guide was shot on this camera! However, I usually only pack 1-2 lenses with me on multiday hikes.
- Peak design camera clip – a must have if you want to carry your camera safely and comfortably. The clip attaches to the backpack strap and the mounting plate to the camera. It’s a very convenient way to be able to access your camera really quickly without having have to store it away each time after taking the shot. You can see me wearing my camera attached to my backpack strap in the photo above.
- Phone – if you want to keep in touch with your family and friends. A lot of the huts in the Dolomites do have phone reception. Don’t forget to keep it in flight mode when not using it to keep the batteries running for as long as possible.
- Small Tripod (optional) – I have two Sirui tripods, but I take the smaller one – Sirui Mini Tripod AM-223 on my backpacking trips. It weighs only 700 grams (1.6 pounds) and the tripod’s ballhead also works with the Peak Design mounting plate!
- InReach Mini GPS device (optional) – this is a great device for anyone who hikes solo. A great investment into your own safety. Remember to carry it attached by a carabiner to the outside of your backpack to ensure quick and easy access
- Camera and phone charging cables and a European plug – Hopefully all your devices charge via USB or USB-C. That way you can take only one European adapter plug with you and attach different charging cables for different devices.
Miscelanous & Optional
- Ear plugs – To help with your sanity if your bunk buddy is an incessant snorer.
- Play cards – for nighttime entertainment. Sometimes cards and other games are available at the huts
- Ebook reader – for whoever loves to read. You can also have your trekking guide on it! I have the Kindle Paperwhite and love the built in light, which allows me to read books in bed without disturbing my bunk buddies in the hut’s dorms.
What backpack will you need?
When you go through this list you might think you will need at least a 65 litre rucksack to fit everything in, but nothing further from the truth!
I had no trouble packing all my camera equipment and the rest of the items on this list into a 38-litre backpack with room to spare! Using a bigger backpack gives temptation to pack a lot more ‘just in case items.
Remember the lighter you go the happier you will be! If I didn’t have my camera equipment, I would have gone with a 25-30 litres backpack.
My go-to brand for backpacks is Osprey. I particularly love their harness system.
If adjusted correctly to your body and in the right size, the backpack hugs the back really nicely, stays in one place and the whole weight sits on your hips, exactly where it should!
Do you have any questions or suggestions about my list? Drop them in the comments below. I answer all comments personally! Make sure to download the checklist and use it for packing for your next hut to hut adventure in the Alps!
If you are looking for information about travelling in the Italian Dolomites check out my independent guide! It has over 60 detailed articles on hiking, photography, hut to hut trips and via ferratas!